North Korea-lity bites
Here’s how Donald Trump had it gamed out -- halting North Korea’s nuke buildup -- long before he ran for president.
“China could solve this problem easily if they wanted to, but they have no respect for our leaders,” he told Fox News in 2013. He stuck to that argument during the 2016 campaign. It would be different with Trump as president, he promised.
In April, hosting Chinese President Xi Jinping at Mar-a-Lago, he enthused over how they got along. He shed a pledge to get tough with Beijing on trade because the grave dangers of Kim Jong Un’s belligerence is more important.
On Twitter Wednesday, Trump sounded like he’d been had: “Trade between China and North Korea grew almost 40% in the first quarter. So much for China working with us -- but we had to give it a try!”
Also, mad: “The United States made some of the worst Trade Deals in world history. Why should we continue these deals with countries that do not help us?”
Trump can ask Xi in person at the Friday-Saturday G-20 summit in Germany.
The take-away: Into the unknown
The top U.S. general in South Korea said “self-restraint” was all that was keeping the United States and South Korea from going to war with the North. At the UN, Ambassador Nikki Haley spoke of drastic sanctions.
But there is no clear idea which way Trump will go.
Newsday’s Dan Janison writes that a lack of predictability may qualify as good strategy when confronting an unpredictable leader of ill intent -- but there may be a difference between unreadable and unintelligible.
Tough talk, then a balk
At a news conference in Warsaw, Trump spoke of considering a "pretty severe" response to North Korea because "they are behaving in a very, very dangerous manner and something will have to be done about it."
Then Trump added: "We'll just take a look at what happens over the coming weeks and months."
He also acknowledged while standing alongside Poland's President Andrzej Duda that he thought Russia meddled in last year's election but said -- as usual without specifics --"I think it was probably other people and/or countries" as well." While at the rostrum, Trump complained again about CNN.
With Putin, shootin’ the breeze
If Trump has thought out a game plan for his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday, he hasn’t shared it with top aides, and that has them worried, The New York Times reports.
Given Trump’s aversion to briefing books, aides have written a list of tweet-length sentences that summarize the main points Trump could bring up, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The Washington Post says Trump could be boxed in by the baggage of the investigations into Russian election interference. Congress wants to strengthen sanctions, not relax them, and any Trump move to meet Moscow’s agenda will trigger suspicion.
The growing distance on issues such as trade and climate between Trump and longtime U.S. allies also is likely to play out on the stage of G-20 summit.
The European Union is expected to underline that approach by announcing the outlines of a free-trade agreement with Japan on Thursday.
That’s a sign, The Washington Post writes, of other top economies adjusting to a new world order, in which they will try to work around the United States instead of looking to Washington for direction.
Polish media say their government sweetened their invitation to Trump to stop in Warsaw before the G-20 summit by promising to bus in cheering crowds for the president’s speech Thursday.
Trump arrived Wednesday night. On Thursday, he gave a speech in Krasinski Square, near the site of the 1944 Warsaw Uprising against the Nazis. He will also meet with leaders of Poland and Croatia, and gave a joint news conference with President Duda. See Tom Brune’s story for Newsday.
Special counsel Robert Mueller could be leaving himself vulnerable to attacks down the road by Trump partisans over the makeup of his lawyers team, The Washington Post reports. At least seven of 15 have been Democratic donors.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions said on “Fox & Friends” last week that Mueller is “entitled ... to hire who he desires, but I think he should look for people who have strength and credibility by all people.” Asked whether he had confidence in Mueller, Sessions said, “I feel confident in what he’ll do.”
What else is happening
- MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” received its highest ratings ever on Friday after Trump launched his series of crass tweets about co-hosts Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough. The show beat Trump’s favorite, “Fox & Friends.”
- Long Island’s “Mean Girls” star Lindsay Lohan tweeted in support of Trump, reports Frank Lovece for Newsday: “THIS IS our president. Stop #bullying him & start trusting him,” she wrote.
- Despite Trump’s call on Israel to curb settlement activity in hopes of reviving peace talks, the Jerusalem municipality said it plans to approve 800 new homes in Jewish-populated areas of East Jerusalem in the coming month.
- Sessions said slain NYPD officer Miosotis Familia was “unjustly targeted” and the killing “is the latest in a troubling series of attacks on police officers over the past two years.”
- Trump will donate his first-quarter 2017 salary — $78,333.32 — to a restoration project of the Civil War’s Antietam National Battlefield in Maryland, the Interior Department announced.
- A public liquidation sale is being held Thursday for contents of the closed Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort in Atlantic City. Furniture, poker tables, grand pianos, art and its famous chandelier are up for grabs.